Internet connectivity is generally reliable and expats will find that keeping in touch in Abu Dhabi is quite easy, although relatively expensive compared to what some expats may be used to. Internet, telephone, mobile phone and post are available and service standards are quite good.
Two companies hold the monopoly over both telephone and internet services in the UAE, namely Etisalat (the national telecommunications company) and its primary rival on the market, Du.
Landline telephones in Abu Dhabi
Landlines are not widely used in the UAE, with mobile phones being dominant when it comes to keeping in touch.
A request for a landline installation is usually done by the building owner – which will be an Emirati national or a company – and any apartment or house generally has one when it is rented out. Otherwise, landlines and internet can be installed as fast as the next day after requesting them.
Long-distance calls from a landline can be expensive. Calls between landlines within the UAE are relatively cheap, and, depending on the package, can be free on a post-paid landline. Payments can be done via the Etisalat website or through online banking, as all banks in Abu Dhabi offer bills payment methods on their sites.
Mobile telephones in Abu Dhabi
Mobile phones are the most common method of communication in the UAE. As both Etisalat and Du offer similar services, the only comprehensive difference is in coverage by their respective networks. Expats are able to apply for mobile phone contracts, but 'pay as you go' services are most common.
Mobile phone coverage in the UAE is extremely good, both nationally and internationally, and Etisalat and Du both offer a variety of plans and services.
Internet connectivity in Abu Dhabi
Internet connectivity in Abu Dhabi can be rather expensive compared to many other developed countries.
Etisalat and Du offer a broad spectrum of internet options, with the UAE now having one of the highest rates of fibre-to-the-home connectivity in the world.
Social networking and censorship in Abu Dhabi
Censorship is still common in Abu Dhabi, with numerous websites blocked in the emirate. Any material deemed to be offensive or inconsistent with the religious, political or moral values of the UAE is blocked. Pornographic, gambling and dating sites are also blocked. However, most of the main social networking sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, are accessible.
Most other applications for messaging and video, including WhatsApp and FaceTime, are widely used and the best method to keep in touch with loved ones from Abu Dhabi. However, these services are sometimes subject to restrictions or blocked.
Postal and courier services in Abu Dhabi
Although traditional postal services are not very common nowadays, this service is very reliable in the UAE; postal services are used primarily for important documents sent by couriers. Couriers are usually on time, and the hassle is minimal.
Shipping packages or sending letters overseas is also easy. However, there is no home mail delivery; expats have to pick their mail up from the post office. Couriers are used for most home deliveries, such as credit cards. Utility bills are usually not mailed; they are available online.
English media and news in Abu Dhabi
English-language media is readily available in the UAE. The National and Gulf Times are English-language dailies. A number of other English magazines and newspapers are also readily available, including Aquarius, Time Out Abu Dhabi, Masala and Abu Dhabi World. There are also English radio and television stations.
Access to English-language television channels is quite good, including the Dubai-based Dubai One, as well as FOX and the BBC.
Are you an expat living in Abu Dhabi?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Abu Dhabi. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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